When Alberto Prado, founder and owner of Spanglish Kitchen, boasted that the items on his menu are better than my mom’s home cooking, I was skeptical. Not because the menu was unappealing, but because my mother’s cooking—like many Hispanic mothers — is her pride and joy, most likely ranking right up there with her two daughters.
Spanglish Kitchen opened in Alhambra in April 2016, boasting traditional Mexican dishes with modern, slightly Americanized twists. While this might make authentic Mexican food connoisseurs worry, fret not. True to its name, culinary offerings taste like you’re at home in your mother’s kitchen (sorry Mom), only while looking trendy and upscale.
There’s a reason Prado’s motto is “Fresh ingredients for today’s service, restaurant quality out of a window.” Nestled on the corner of Alhambra Road and Atlantic Boulevard, Spanglish Kitchen stands out as patrons walk up to a window to order, dining on a small patio. Tables and chairs are lined up alongside the small kitchen with umbrellas overhead and small wooden fences so as not to be completely exposed to cars speeding by. The kitchen is reminiscent of a hip food truck without the wheels.
Almost everything on the menu is under $10, making it the perfect place for families and those who want to try a bit of everything. Spanglish Kitchen offers classic meat options of asada, pastor, carnitas, chicken, even chorizo, as well as shrimp and fish. The meat options can be ordered in most varieties, from burritos and tortas to quesadillas and sopes. And for those who don’t eat meat, rejoice! Spanglish Kitchen has the best vegetarian options I have ever had the pleasure of trying.
To start, I had the crunchy potato taco ($2.25) which was easily my favorite item of the night. It features sour cream, lettuce, cheese and chipotle, all nestled over creamy, flavorful mashed potatoes. I didn’t know I needed a mashed potato taco in my life until the moment all those flavors blissfully melted together in my mouth. Where most Mexican restaurants offer “veggie” options that consist of beans and cheese, Spanglish Kitchen has created a veggie mix to satisfy vegetarians and meat eaters alike. The mix has sauteed zucchini, tomato, onion and corn for $2.25 when ordered in a taco. Keep in mind that if you make it on a Tuesday, they offer “Street Taco Tuesday,” offering tacos for — you guessed it — a whopping $1.
Second best to the potato taco was the shrimp taco ($3), offered with a choice of hard shell or soft tortilla. Sauteed with onions and tomato, the shrimp is topped with lettuce and a slice of avocado, which was a nice touch.
The asada burrito ($9) contains beans, rice, onion, cilantro, and is served with a small side of chips and pico de gallo. While not the most special item on the menu, the meat had good flavor and did the job for your standard burrito. To share, try the nacho fries with chicken ($6.50), of which the highlight is the chicken itself. The nachos come with any choice of meat or veggie mix and beans, sour cream, jack cheese, queso fresco, and pico de gallo. A scoop of guacamole would take them over the top, but they’re delicious nonetheless. Spanglish Kitchen offers red, green and habanero salsa in addition to the pico de gallo, which is great for those like me who aren’t sure how much spice they can handle.
Order one of the aguas frescas made in house for $3 to enjoy with your meal and you’ll thank me later. The watermelon flavor tastes as if biting into a chilled slice of watermelon, and on a hot day in Southern California is there anything better? Other flavors include pineapple, melon and all-time crowd favorite, horchata. I’d be remiss not to recommend the sopes with chicken ($4.25), which had everything working in its favor. The thick, fried tortilla was not too tough and had pinto beans, cabbage, sour cream and queso fresco. Enough ingredients for amazing taste, but not too overloaded to prevent picking it up to bite into it, which is key.
If you’re in the mood for breakfast, they serve a few options all day, including chilaquiles ($7-$9), chorizo and eggs ($8), and huevos rancheros ($8). Breakfast burritos are served until noon, and pozole ($12) is served on weekends.
To cap off our dining experience we noticed they serve homemade flan. I couldn’t resist. Growing up with aunts who make the best flan for every family party, I was surprised that Spanglish Kitchen won me over instantly with their creamy take on a classic dessert. It took me back to my childhood, to say the least.
When we arrived around 8 p.m. there were only a few other groups dining so the food was ready rather quickly. Working the register was Prado himself, who grew up in the restaurant business and knew he wanted to bring real Mexican food with good quality to the area. In the two years it’s been open, Spanglish Kitchen has done just that and more. Offering a wide variety of choices and unique flavors in classic dishes, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Once you spot it, it’s hard to miss and the outdoor seating is perfect for summer nights. Even if you’re not really hungry, just driving past Spanglish Kitchen will spark a casual craving in anyone.
526 N. Atlantic Blvd., Alhambra | (626) 589-0482 | Major Cards/No Alcohol